By Marcello Iaia
HILLTOWNS — Mary Beth Peterson has taken over as program director of the Hilltown Community Resource Center, after Kathleen Speck retired.
Program Assistant Kathy Whitbeck has returned to the center, which is located in the Westerlo Reformed Church on Route 143, and offers social services for the surrounding area. The center is sponsored by the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany.
“I just wanted the people in the community to be aware that we are up and running again,” said Peterson, who started three weeks ago.
Speck, who was the program director for over 12 years, retired in December.
Peterson said the food pantry in the church is open by appointment, and Ted Porpeglia of Fidelis Care will be there from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays to answer questions and process applications or recertification for Medicaid.
The Home Energy Assistance Program, which uses federal funds to help people with heating fuel costs, will have a representative at the center on Tuesday, March 12.
“For families in need that would need help with an Easter meal or Easter baskets for the kids, they can call our office and we’ll certainly get them help with that,” said Peterson.
People with low incomes or children to look after have trouble getting to needed services in Albany, Peterson said. She is planning more outreach and resources for the community center.
“That’s really our goal, to try to make this a one-stop shop center. It’s going to take time for sure,” said Peterson.
Peterson can be reached at 797-5256.
Since 2004, Peterson has lived in the Hilltowns, raising children with autism and advocating for other children as a Parent Partner with Families Together in Albany County for six years at its East Berne location. That program ended when its federal grant ran out in 2010.
Speck and Peterson first met through Peterson’s work with Families Together, which supports children with social, emotional, or behavioral concerns, and their families.